In the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 Blu-ray 3D is getting up to speed. 3D HDTV's manufacturers are fighting for exclusive releases in order to convert more customers their way. Studios obviously have nothing against the piles of money thrown at them. Sony teamed with Disney and got exclusivity deals for Alice in Wonderland and Bolt. Samsung partnered with Dreamworks and got the Shrek series, How to Train Your Dragon and Monsters vs. Aliens, with Megamind on the way. But Panasonic did top them by securing exclusivity for Avatar 3D Blu-ray.
Obviously fans are the big losers in this contest. If you want to get a particular movie and it happens to be exclusive for a manufacturer competing with the brand of your 3D equipment, then you are pretty much forced to wait for the exclusivity period to end and the movie to get free distribution.
Anyway, here is a list of the Top 5 essential 3D Blu-ray movies so far.
Avatar is what started the 3D craze in the movie industry. Not that 3D wasn't here before that. Zemeckis, for one, was pushing it for years. But James Cameron showed everyone that there is some huge profit to be made on that field. A year later, Avatar is still the benchmark in 3D and the definitive Blu-ray 3D show-off film. The one to get if you want to impress. Striking visuals, deep colors, consistent video quality, possibly the most meticulously perfect transfer of a 3D movie on BD for the time being.
This is surely a must have for all 3D adopters. The catch is in Panasonic's exclusivity deal. Avatar 3D Blu-ray is only sold in a Panasonic bundle. If you happen to own a Panasonic 3D display by all means you should get that bundle. It includes a pair of 3D active shutter glasses and Avatar Blu-ray 3D disc. And if you already own a couple of glasses, a pair more should be a good addition, especially if you want to treat your guests with some 3D experience. If you have a 3D HDTV from another brand you are probably better off waiting for the exclusivity to end, wherever that may be. Unless, of course, you are a die hard fan and willing to spend some extra cash. If that is the case, for your information: Avatar 3D Blu-ray disc itself will work with any Blu-ray 3D set.
A Christmas Carol
The last film (for now) of long time 3D proponent Robert Zemeckis might as well be the most clever in terms of 3D utilization of all the movies on the list. This is a movie doing 3D the way it should be done and not just to blend with the trend. For that matter, one may say A Christmas Carol predates the trend considering it was released before Avatar. This is an easy and wholehearted recommendation: a very good transfer and possibly the smartest 3D imagery created for now.
Also included in the 4-disc pack is the 2D version (unlike most 3D Blu-ray movies, this one cannot be played in 2D), a DVD version and another DVD with extras.
Based on Neil Gaiman's children's book, Coraline is not really a children's movie. It is also something of an oddity here as it is a stop motion animation, an approach uncommon in this age of CGI. And, somewhat surprisingly (or, then again, maybe not, considering stop motion is actually more-'real' than any photorealistic rendered imagery), this style translates to 3D in a breath-taking manner. A delightful movie, a gorgeous and imaginative 3D world and a beautiful transfer to Blu-ray 3D. Lets thank the gods of bluray for setting this former Panasonic exclusive free for everyone to enjoy.
An obvious tendency to list animated films is forming here and this is easy to explain. Rendering a perfect 3D image is much easier than capturing one in live action. 3D animated films are at the top when quality is judged.
Despicable Me is the children pleaser in the list and probably the only one of the 3D Blu-ray movies here falling in this category. Adults may find it goofy but kids appear to think it is hysterical. Great colors, detailed image, minimal ghosting and other artifacts. Do your kids a favor and get them to see this.
Resident Evil: Afterlife
The latest installment in the Resident Evil series is not really what one would call a good film. It has some redeeming features though. It is shot in 3D unlike some other movies (*cough*, Clash of the Titans *cough*), which are being post-converted just to make them able to join the gold rush. It also does offer some decent over the top action and a good amount of fan service. Although the movie is shot with the latest incarnation of the tech used in Avatar, it doesn't really reach, let alone surpass, Avatar's heights. The 3D is mostly straightforward and betting on visceral effects: stuff coming out of the screen and the like. The image is detailed and crisp, and colors are good.
And three honorable mentions (yes, animations again) that have not found a proper place in our Top 5 list of 3D Blu-ray movies:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
How to Train Your Dragon
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
If instead of a hardware player, you prefer to use your PC for BD playback you'll need 3D Blu-ray player software. And if the list above is not enough to stuff your BD collection, discover other 3D Blu-ray movies for sale at Amazon.